The Carolinas are in the middle of the east coast. This gives the region a unique blend of north east New York and southern hip-hop styles. While they borrow from both regions, the rappers in North Carolina and South Carolina have unique sounds.
From underground standouts to international pop stars, you’ll find all types of rappers in Carolina. Today, we’ll cover the best Carolina rappers out there.
J. Cole is one of the biggest and most successful rappers from North Carolina. Born in Frankfurt, West Germany, Cole moved to Fayetville, North Carolina at an early age.
After releasing several successful mixtapes, Cole released his debut album, “Cole World: The Sideline Story,” in 2011. The album was critically acclaimed and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Since then, he’s had a string of successful albums and won a Grammy for the best rap song.
Cole cites a range of artists as influences, including Tupac, Nas, Michael Jackson, and Bobby Brown. You can hear the mix of rap and R&B in many of Cole’s biggest tracks.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Da Baby broke into hip-hop after releasing several mixtapes in 2014. His debut album, “Baby on Baby,” brought Da Baby international attention.
Da Baby combines minimal trap beats with a bouncy rhyming flow to create a unique sound. His songs appeal to underground and pop music scenes.
He proudly states that he borrows from all his influences. Da Baby’s style is a mix of Future, Lil Wayne, Missy Elliot, Ludacris, and more.
Hailing from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, B.o.B. started his rap career in his teens after singing for Rebel Rock Entertainment in 2006.
His debut single, “Nothin’ On You,” was an instant hit. Combining pop sensibilities and a slick rap flow, the single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
B.o.B had many successful albums since his debut release and four Grammy nominations.
Jermaine Dupri is a rapper, producer, and record executive from Asheville, North Carolina. Starting as a producer, Dupri signed Kris Kross in 1990. The group was a success and scored a multi-platinum album.
Throughout the 90s, Dupri put his signature production on countless hits. He helped Mariah Carey, Lil’ Kim, MC Lyte, and countless others score big hits during this era.
As a rapper, Dupri recorded two studio albums in the late 90s. He also appears on many other tracks. He’s collaborated with Ludacris, Keith Sweat, Monica, Jay-Z, and many other hip-hop moguls since the 90s.
Born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1991, Renni Rucci started her music career in 2017. Rucci started rapping by rhyming over popular beats.
She went viral by recording herself freestyling over Lil’ Baby’s track, “Freestyle.” This was her big break, and she released two underground mixtapes as follow-ups.
To further her career, Rucci co-starred on the television show, “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” for season 10.
Representing Columbia, South Carolina, Blacc Zacc started releasing mixtapes as a teenager. He found commercial success in 2019 with two singles, “Hahaha,” and “Chump Change.”
Zacc founded his label, Dirty Money Entertainment, and released several mixtapes before signing a major deal with Interscope.
While working with Interscope, Zacc collaborated with other Carolina artists, including DaBaby and Stunna 4 Vegas.
Going viral on Soundcloud and Tik Tok is essential for rappers. Smoke Gambino knows how to get his tracks to go viral, and is a major player in the South Carolina hip-hop scene.
Gambino uses dark and hypnotic trap beats and lo-fi elements to give his tracks an underground feel. His rhyme style is a mix of other modern trap artists, but Gambino adds flavor to each track to make it his own.
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Deniro Farrar debuted in 2010 with his first mixtape. He followed up his debut with four studio albums and ten EPs.
Farrar confronts real-life issues during his tracks. He often discusses racial issues, political activism, and philosophical ideas while rapping. His raspy voice pulls you into each track and hypnotizes you until the climax.
A self-proclaimed cult leader, Farrar promoted a healthy and conscious lifestyle. He’s an avid proponent of meditation, physical activity, and philosophy.
Dark and distorted is the best way to describe Rich Dunk’s rap skills. A Charlotte native, Dunk found success collaborating with Da Baby on “Blame It On Baby.”
Soon after graduating from high school, Dunk pursued a music career. Quickly, his songs found popularity online and amassed millions of plays. Dunk is a force to reckon with and one of the brightest rising stars in the Carolina hip-hop scene.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Cordae made a name for himself by remixing other rappers like Eminem and J. Cole. His remix videos found success after uploads to WorldStarHipHop’s channel.
After this initial success, Cordae released his first album, “The Lost Boy,” to critical acclaim. He received nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
Cordae’s style matches Nas, Kid Kudi, and Kendrick Lamar. He uses a mix of old school rapping styles and modern rhyming techniques to create his style.
Born Marianna Evans in Snow Hill, North Carolina, Rapsody started her rap career in 2004 after meeting rapper 9th Wonder. For the first few years, she worked in groups and recorded her first solo album in 2007.
Her second album, “Laila’s Wisdom,” was a massive success. She received two Grammy nominations and is now one of the most sought-after female rappers in the industry.
Rapsody uses complex metaphors and wordplay during all her tracks. You’ll also hear a nod to many of her idols in her tracks.
9th Wonder is a prolific rapper, producer, and record executive from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He had his first success as a producer after releasing a remix album of Nas’ album, “God’s Son.”
After this initial success, 9th Wonder worked with industry giants like Destiny’s Child and Drake.
While he’s more famous for his productions, 9th Wonder is also an adept MC. He’s released twelve studio albums and countless collaborative albums since 2003.
Stunna 4 Vegas
Stunna 4 Vegas started his rap career in Salisbury, North Carolina. After making a name for himself in the underground hip-hop scene, Stunna 4 Vegas released a single with Da Baby in 2018.
“Animal” was successful, and went viral on YouTube and Soundcloud. Amassing millions of plays, Stunna 4 Vegas signed to Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment in 2018.
He released his debut album, “Big 4x, in 2019, and it peaked at number fifty on the US charts.
Petey Pablo turned a hectic lifestyle around. Born in Greenville, North Carolina, Pablo spent five years in prison for armed robbery. After release, he met Black Rob and Busta Rhymes. They were impressed with his skills, and he signed with Jive Records.
In 2001, Pablo released his debut album to critical and commercial success. “Diary of a Sinner” peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200.
He’s since released three more studio albums and four mixtapes throughout his career.
Edgar Allen Floe
Edgar Allen Floe originally dreamed of working as a professional DJ, but his love of rapping took over when he was fourteen. Floe started writing his rhymes and joined The Undefined in 1996.
He would go on to release several mixtapes before his debut album. “The Streetwise LP” received critical acclaim in 2008.
Floe’s underground sound is a mix of old and new rap styles and utilizes distorted funk and soul samples to give the songs an upbeat flavor.
You have to master the internet to make it as an artist in the modern era. Luckily, PG Ra has the musical and marketing skills to rise to the top. This Orangeburg native is one of the biggest rising stars in South Carolina.
Dreamy beats mix with a stark southern accent to form a smooth and dark flow on his tracks. With over ten million views on YouTube, PG Ra shows young rappers can make it in today’s competitive scene.
Big Pooh is a North Carolina rapper who rose to prominence through his work with hip hop collective Justus League and hip hop trio Little Brother. However, he’s proven to be more than capable of standing on his own in the music industry.
Big Pooh released his first studio album in 2005 and has produced 12 more since then. His crisp style and smooth flow blend perfectly with his philosophical and socially aware lyrics that delve into racial profiling and other topics.
You can best describe Slime Dollaz as trippy and hypnotic. The artist’s breakthrough track, “Evil,” gained traction after going viral on YouTube. His follow-up, “Drippin’,” was successful on YouTube as well.
Born in Spartanburg, Dollaz confronts real life in his rhymes.
Underground rapper Shawn Scrilla is redefining southern hip hop. Born in Rock Hill, Scrilla is making a name for himself by delivering relentless lyrics of the deepest beats.
While new to the game, you should expect big things from the rapper. He’s recently worked with Da Baby and pushed boundaries on his next mixtape.
Lil Mexico grew up in Gray Court, South Carolina. While young, Lil Mexico is quickly growing into one of the best South Carolina rappers. He started rapping at eleven and promotes his music through online viral campaigns on YouTube, Tik Tok, and Soundcloud.
His lyrics take inspiration from his small town home and his life. He uses deep trap beats infused with a mix of classic samples and obscure hypnotic synths. His mix of sounds is great for relaxing or dancing.
While new to the game, Lil Mexico has a bright future as a rapper.
Fayetteville rapper, Morray found his love of music at an early age. Listened to R&B and gospel, Morray uses a mix of modern trap beats, dramatic rhyming skills, and enduring R&B melodies to craft a unique rap style.
His debut single, “Quicksand,” propelled the artist into stardom after critical acclaim and peaked at sixty-five on the US charts.
A mix of Usher and Drake, Morray uses his songs to express his soulful love of music.
Another newcomer to the scene, this Columbia native, is gaining traction and might be one of the best South Carolina rappers.
Mook TBG released his first single, “Red Roses,” in 2016. He uses a mix of trap beats, autotuned vocals, and quick high-hats to create pop-friendly tracks that stay true to underground hip hop.
Originally from Oak Ridge, North Carolina, Ashnikko found success after sharing the video with TikTok. “Stupid” was instantly picked up and went gold in 2019.
Inspired by everything from country to death metal, you never know what to expect from an Ashnikko track. Her biggest breakthrough includes co-writing “Boss BItch” with Doja Cat. The track appeared on the soundtrack to “Birds of Prey.”
Since 2017, she released one mixtape and three EPs. While young, we expect a bright career for Ashnikko.
Lute is a rapper from Charlotte, North Carolina. He started his career with the Charlotte rap group, Forever FC. They released their first mixtape in 2012.
In 2015, Lute broke out on his one and signed with J. Cole’s Dreamville Records. By 2017, he released his first single, “Juggin.” Lute released his second album, “Gold Mouf,” in 2021 on Interscope records.
A mix of soul, old-school hip hop, and trap beats, Lute has a modern sound yet sticks true to hip hop’s roots.
L.E.G.A.C.Y. , which stands for Life Ends Gradually and Changes You, was born on a military base Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He spent his childhood in Fayetteville before moving to Goldsboro.
He often incorporates dark themes to focus on the difficulties he’s faced in his early life. His lyrics are reminiscent of a mix of Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Rakim.
His first break came after joining the Justus League and working with fellow Carolina rapper, 9th Wonder. L.E.G.A.C.Y released his first solo album, “Legsclusives,” in 2003.
Spartanburg native NGeeYL is new to the game but making a huge impact in the South Carolina hip-hop scene. Releasing his first track in 2015, NGeeYL is quickly gaining steam with his mix of trap beats and bouncy lyrical skills.
He’s recently had features on tracks from Young Nudy, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, and 21 Savage.
After several successful mixtapes, the rapper signed to 300 entertainment and released a mixtape on the imprint in 2018.
Raised in Gastonia, North Carolina, Fred Durst burst onto the scene as the frontman of Limp Bizkit. The nu-metal band combined aggressive rapping, hardcore guitar riffs, and hard-hitting drums. Their sound was everywhere in the late 90s.
The music struck a chord with the scene during the 90s. Thanks to the success, Limp Bizkit played at the Woodstock 99 festival. During their performance, violent mosh pits turned into riots. After their set, the festival turned into three days of mayhem.
As an MC, Durst has a unique style featuring guttural vocal screams that fit perfectly with the dark and grimy rhymes he uses. His voice is hypnotic and gets any crowd jumping around and breaking stuff.
Top Carolina Rappers, Final Thoughts
The North and South Carolina hip-hop scene is quickly growing. From top artists like J. Cole to up-and-comers, the Carolinas are an influential part of modern hip-hop. Rappers in North and South Carolina use all styles and sub-genres of hip hop, and you can hear everything from sexy R&B ballads to grimy underground trap beats from the artists.